The Horror Filmmaker
So you want to make a horror movie.
It seems that it would be my job to cheer you on and to say go for it. The world needs your unique vision. I would say that, but most of you want to create water down re-workings of your favorite films.
No peep talk yet.
We have seen big budget remakes of Friday the 13th and the Fog and Nightmare on Elm Street, The Chainsaw Massacre and countless others that had one thing in common. They stink, stank and stunk up theaters from coast to coast and living rooms across the nation.
Do not copy. Reinvent what you love.
The Evil Dead is a re-invention of Night of the Living dead. For that matter so is Return of the Living Dead.
Rob Zombie did not remake Halloween he re-invented it. He took a great film and flipped it. The original is very cold and well paced. His remake is hot and the pace like the camera work is shaky. He made a very angry and aggressive movie. It is one of those rare horror films that did not give the audience a moment to laugh it off. The original film presented a soulless killing machine who dispatched victims without reguard for them, the new re-invented Michael Myers killed more like a wild animal than a human being.
To create a great horror movie you have to really think about all the things that are going on not only inside the story, but inside each character. You have to dig deep to come up with characters whom will be remembered. To make films that people will want to watch for decades to come.
Okay let’s get started.
The Basic Rules:
In a horror film you (the subject) is being chased by something rather than in a thriller where you are chasing something. Horror the art of being menaced by the unknown and for as long as possible the unseen.
Take one of the best horror movies of the last few years the movie The Descent, in it the characters find themselves trapped in dark remote caves. They may run out of air and light before they find their way out and this would make for a great thriller and if it was only a thriller this would have been a great movie, what has elevated it to being a cult classic is the introduction of the creatures who live down there in the dark. Human like creatures who have turned total cannibal.
The chase by the supernatural force, in this case flesh eating mutants, is what makes it a horror film.
The great thing about the Descent and what is lacking from most horror movies is that it first establishes the real world. A natural world that every viewer can relate to and then and only then it picks that world apart and introduces the supernatural world. Do it in this order and you have the possibility of creating a great movie, do it any other way and well I would suggest that you look at the last two or three dozen horror movies that have hit theaters during the last year and you will struggle to find one that is worth recalling.
Outside of the Paranormal Activity movies which follows the rules of establishing reality, introducing a menacing supernatural force and then raising the stakes higher and higher the recent line up of horror movies have been terrible. Of course this is why I am encouraging you to go out and make horror film. The odds are that if enough are made be people who understand that there are basic rules then perhaps a few good movies will be made.
Good luck. Remember to please stumble us on Stumbleupon, add us to your google plus and tell a friend about this site. Coming soon will be a page on horror movie makeup effects.
Here is a 4 minute tutorial by a kid I think has a future at this, I do not agree with everything that he says (music, I think that you can make a great horror movie without it, watch the Exorcist and the Birds, almost no music to telegraph what is going to happen) but he offers some great advice.